SLH Presents... Swing dance: A brief history


 Check out a timeline featuring a VERY brief history of swing dance below!


Jazz music developed in Southern African American communities in from Ragtime and Dixieland music. Jazz came into the mainstream in the 1920s, although it was first seen as immoral and decadent. Dancing was the most popular pastime, and many fad dances came and went, such as the Texas Tommy, Breakaway, Charleston, and Black Bottom. Significant artists include King Oliver and Louis Armstrong.


Swing music became the dominate form of music in the early 1930s. During this time, Lindy Hop was created at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, New York by African American dancers such as Shorty George, Frankie Manning, and Norma Miller. Famous bandleaders such as Chick Webb, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman orchestrated the big-band swinging sound. Other swing dances created during this period include Balboa, Collegiate Shag, and Charleston.


Swing music began to fall out of favour as rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and modern jazz became more popular and wartime taxes were levied against “dancing” nightclubs. Lindy Hop influenced new dances such as Rockabilly, West Coast Swing and Ballroom Jive but began to disappear from mainstream interest.


The dark age of swing. During these couple of decades, swing dancing was at an all-time low in popularity, leaving the world waiting to see when it would re-emerge...


In the early 80s, people from Sweden, New York, California, and England were inspired by old video footage of Lindy Hop and set out to find the dancers in the video clips which led them to be taught by dancers such as Frankie Manning and Norma Miller. By the 90s, the increasing revival of swing dance led to swing music enjoying a brief period of mainstream popularity where bars, movies, and the radio featured neo-swing artists such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.


Today, swing dance communities are thriving across the world. People continue to study and learn more about swing dancing and swing music from new and original dancers, including right here in Saskatoon!